HMV Canadian music store mogul Doug Putman joins battle for HMV
Sunrise Records president interested in UK retailer, which is being circled by Mike Ashley
A Canadian music store mogul has emerged as a leading contender to take over HMV, which is also being circled by Mike Ashley.
Doug Putman, who runs the Canadian record retailer Sunrise Records and uses Fleetwood Mac albums to explain his business model, has entered the race to buy the UK music and film retailer, which collapsed into administration just after Christmas.
Sunrise Records previously took over about 70 HMV store sites in Canada after the chain went bust there in early 2017 and now boasts more than 80 outlets. When Putman acquired Sunrise in 2014, it had only five stores.
It emerged a fortnight ago that Ashley was considering a bid that could result in him adding the HMV brand to a retail empire that includes his Sports Direct chain, the House of Fraser department store group and, most recently, sofa.com.
Putman’s previous deal involving HMV stores could put him into pole position, although it is not clear how many of HMV’s 125 outlets might be saved under his ownership.
Putman is in his mid-30s and has been president of Sunrise Records since 2014. His company has been a beneficiary of the renewed popularity of vinyl: Sunrise reportedly sold almost 500,000 vinyl albums in 2017.
In an interview last year, he used Fleetwood Mac to explain how his chain differed from the way HMV’s Canada arm operated, saying that where most chains would limit themselves to the band’s greatest hits collection and the 1977 classic Rumours, customers were looking for more. “Rather than having what I call the ‘basics’, we would offer Tusk [from 1979] and Tango in the Night [from 1987]. It takes it deeper and it gives the customer that assortment in the store,” he told Spill Magazine.
Putman compared record shopping to “a treasure hunt”, saying: “You may go in with an idea of what you want but when flipping through a great record store’s selection, you always find something else.”
HMV was put into administration by Hilco, the restructuring firm that has owned the business since 2013, on 28 December last year. It appointed insolvency experts from the accountancy firm KPMG as joint administrators, who were charged with either finding a buyer for the business or closing it down. KPMG declined to comment on the sale process.
Hopes of a rescue of the entire HMV group, which includes nine Fopp stores, had been viewed as slim amid Brexit uncertainty, falling DVD sales and heavy competition from Amazon and the supermarkets. HMV’s stores remain open while talks with suppliers and potential buyers continue.
When it called in administrators, HMV said retailers of all types were facing “a tsunami of challenges”, festive trading had been “extremely weak” and sales of DVDs across the market had plunged by 30% on last year’s levels.
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